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Former IEBC staff shadow looms over 2022 election

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021 03:00 | By
CA director general Ezra Chiloba was IEBC chief executive in 2017. Photo/File

Jeremiah Kiplang’at

Former IEBC officials who played a key role in the nullified 2017 presidential election are now in charge of critical agencies that will oversee next year’s General Election.

The officials, who left the electoral agency under a cloud of controversy following the disputed election, have found their way into the helm of key agencies that will be in charge of the next elections.

The Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory, citing electoral malpractices putting the IEBC on the spot. 

Opposition leaders, who had successfully petitioned the nullification, demanded the resignation of then IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba as one of the conditions to participate in the repeat election.

Chiloba stayed put but was hounded out a year later after he disagreed with the commission’s chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Recently, Chiloba was appointed the Director-General Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). 

CA is one of the critical institutions that have a direct role in voting and relaying of results as it is charged with ensuring the country is well covered by mobile phone network to ease transmission of results by polling agents.

Recently, Chebukati warned that the country was yet to be fully covered by 3G network despite raising the matter before the last election. He asked CA to ensure the polling stations were covered before the 2022 elections.

Chiloba’s former colleague James Muhati, who was in March 2020 named Huduma Kenya chief executive officer, replaced the commission’s late ICT director Chris Msando who was murdered few weeks to the last election.

Huduma Namba

Muhati came under fire following the contested elections that focused on the IEBC’s servers.

The opposition leaders, led by ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga, demanded the opening of the servers to ascertain the authenticity of the results.

After resigning, Muhati was picked by the government to head Huduma Kenya.

The importance of Huduma Namba has been highlighted by the Huduma Bill, 2021 set for introduction in the National Assembly that will force IEBC to use the National Integrated Identity Management System to develop its voters register.

According to the Bill, NIIMS will be a database containing key details of all Kenyans. The Huduma Namba will be used to access the system.

Immaculate Kassait, who is a former long-serving IEBC official, was in November 2020 appointed to head the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, an agency that will play an important role next year’s election.

Kassait was the IEBC’s Director, Voter Education and Partnerships. 

Established by the Data Protection Act, 2019, the office regulates data collection, storage and use of data collected. 

The importance of the office was recently emphasised when the High Court declared the Huduma Namba illegal for violating the Data Protection law.

Anne Nderitu, who was last year confirmed the Registrar of Political Parties after acting since 2018, had also served as a senior official at the election’s body.  She was in charge of training at the IEBC. 

Her current role includes approval of registration political parties and nomination rules.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany, an ally of Deputy President William Ruto, yesterday said they were not worried about the central role that will be played by former IEBC officials in the next election.

“Voting and counting is done at the polling stations. It will not be possible to manipulate results because we will have party agents in all stations,” said Kositany.

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